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Not everything the Philadelphia Young Republicans do is directly related to politics. Like making sure kids have a backpack at the start of the school year.
On Friday, the organization donated 330 backpacks filled with school supplies to 12 elementary schools around the city. Equipped with bright orange, green and blue bookbags, PYR members traveled to public and charter schools in neighborhoods like Olney, Southwark and West Philadelphia.
“There’s no Republican or Democrat or liberal or conservative way to have a school backpack,” said Councilman Al Taubenberger, who accompanied the group to two of the donation locations. “The fact is that you have it — and can use it to go to school.”
The project was started by Philly Young Republicans treasurer Bryan Leib, and funded via private donations made both online and off. Within nine days of launching the campaign — which was originally intended to provide just 35 students with materials — there was enough money to pay for several hundred.
“The colors are great,” said Theresa Knight, a guidance counselor at the Penn Alexander School in West Philly. As the school year begins, counselors will filter the donated materials to students who need them.
The need is great. Many Philadelphia students don’t have enough money to buy proper school supplies. Last year, Public Citizens for Children and Youth reported that the city’s child poverty rate stood at 38.3 percent in 2015 — around 18 percent higher than the national average that year.
For Tiffany Antes, a guidance counselor who works at Henry Lea Elementary School, the backpack donations can make an impact on the students.
“It helps them be a little more successful here.” Antes said. “They feel like they’re prepared, they’re ready.”
Here are some of the scenes from the supplies giveaway.